This week I listened to an episode of How to Money concerning how men and women handle money. How to Money is a podcast that I recently began to enjoy after being introduced to it through the Clark Howard Show. One of the things that I really liked about the episode was the discussion they had concerning some of the thoughts that often surround gender and the supposed universal differences between the sexes.
They briefly mentioned the 1990s book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” The book focused on stereo-typical differences between the sexes. Of course, the author, John Gray, isn’t the only one to have ever done this. Lot’s of people take these generalities and focus on them, sometimes to the point of making them universals. Another example of this is Mark Gungor’s Tale of Two Brains.
Now back to the podcast.
What I really liked about the podcast episode is that while it recognized that there are some generalized differences between how most (not all) men and most (not all) women handle money, the sexes have far more in common. That’s the problem with these gender-based stereotypes, they treat the sexes as though we are different species – to make an implication from John Gray’s title, as though we are from different planets. That simply isn’t the case. We have far more in common, emotionally, financially, etc., etc., than we have differences.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences that can be stereotyped. For example, in general …
- men are more likely to invest but women’s investments are more likely to outperform men’s investment (primarily because women don’t mess around with them all the time)
- women are more likely to see shopping as recreational but men are more likely to spend significantly more (both in total spending and price per item).
- women tend to be more comfortable with financial security and men are more comfortable with financial risk.
But once again those are just generalities, not universals. These generalities may be cultural, they may be biological, or they could be a combination of both. One thing is definitely true and that is that they are not true of everyone. When we treat them as though they are true of everyone and say “men are like this…” and “women are like this…” we at best lie to ourselves, and at worst exclude people who don’t fit into these generalities. As though they are less of a woman or a man.
We have much more in common than we have different from one another. Or, to readapt Gray’s book title, men are from Plover, and women are from Stevens Point. There are some differences, but not much. We basically all like good cheese.